Robert Morris’ Delbert Tyler reconnects with Western Pa. roots
It’s been almost nine years since Delbert Tyler stepped on a football field for an official game in Western Pennsylvania.
The 2009 Gateway graduate, who helped the Gators make it to three consecutive WPIAL Class AAAA championship games at Heinz Field, started all four years at linebacker at Hampton University before embarking on a coaching career that included stops at the University of Findlay in Ohio and, most recently, Eastern Michigan.
Now, Tyler is wearing the red, white and blue of the Colonials at Robert Morris as a defensive line coach and the main recruiting coordinator. He said he couldn’t be happier to be back in the Pittsburgh area working on the staff of new coach Bernard Clark.
“I was pretty excited when I got the call,” said Tyler, who first met Clark during his recruiting process. Clark was Hampton’s defensive line coach during Tyler’s junior year in 2012 and was the Pirates defensive coordinator the next year.
“He coached me in college, and we kept a great relationship,” Tyler said. “He’s become a coaching mentor in my life.”
Clark coached the linebackers at Pitt in 2010, held the same job at Colorado State in 2011 and most recently served four seasons at Albany under former Pitt assistant Greg Gattuso. Clark was the associate head coach, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach the past three campaigns.
This is Clark’s first head coaching job. He also has coached at James Madison, South Florida, Florida International and Liberty.
Clark, Tyler and the coaching staff hit the ground running at RMU in early January, a couple of weeks before national letter of intent signing day.
“It was pretty hectic, but it was a good start. We have some really good guys coming in,” Tyler said.
Clark said Tyler was one of the first guys he called when he was looking at the RMU job.
“It was extremely important to get someone from this area that wanted to be back in the area and also have him be able to continue his coaching career,” Clark said.
“What Delbert’s done as the recruiting coordinator has been outstanding. He knows the area, knows the people and knows what they are looking for. He’s helped me tremendously in the community. He’s also really up on social media and has helped me become more comfortable with it.”
Tyler, who completed his four years as Hampton’s second all-time leading tackler with 386 stops, began his coaching career as a linebackers coach in 2015 at ASA College of Miami.
He moved on to Division II Findlay for the 2016 season and switched to coaching the defensive line. He also broke down film, ran the scout team and recruited portions of Ohio.
Last fall at Eastern Michigan, Tyler served as a graduate assistant defensive line coach and also assisted with recruiting.
Under his watch, defensive linemen Maxx Crosby and Jeremiah Harris earned all-Mid-American Conference honors. Crosby finished 2017 with 16 1⁄2 tackles for loss and 11 sacks, and Harris accumulated 12 1⁄2 tackles for loss and six sacks.
“It’s impressive the way Delbert’s picked up what it takes to effectively coach the defensive line,” said Clark, who won two national titles as a player with the Miami Hurricanes.
“He communicates well with the players. His knowledge of the defensive line is really going to help us.”
Tyler said the RMU defensive line can be solid this season.
“We have a couple of guys from Western PA and a couple of grad students who will help us,” he said. “They are eager to learn. At our spring game, they were flying to the ball and making plays. I am excited to see how they will do in the season.”
Tyler said he coaches his players the way he played as a linebacker at Hampton.
“I do speak about my playing days because that’s how I want them to play — fast and physical, getting to the ball, going until the whistle is blown and making plays,” he said.
Robert Morris kicks off its season at Dayton on Sept. 1 before coming home to take on Virginia State on Sept. 8. The Colonials play a nonconference game at FCS power James Madison before beginning the Northeast Conference portion of their schedule.
“It’s a great feeling to be able to come home and coach, see my family often and be able to recruit western Pennsylvania,” Tyler said. “I can’t wait for the season to start.”